The day Osho left the body (19 January 1990)

Remembering Here&Now

An excerpt from Anando’s book, Osho: Intimate Glimpses.

Osho on stretcher in Buddha Hall

Can you tell us what happened when Osho left the body?

To be honest, I was in complete denial that he was leaving the body, even though I knew he was extremely fragile. He had given me enough hints that he was about to leave—for instance, a couple of nights before, as I was combing his beard, I said, ‘It is getting really long. Soon it will reach your knees.’ Osho said, ‘If I live that long, Anando.’ The way he said it, and the look he gave me in that moment, pierced right through me. In retrospect, I realized he was telling me his time was near, but I just didn’t want to hear it, so I let it sail right over my head. I refused to countenance him not being there.

I reasoned that although his body was very fragile, still he had been going to every evening meeting in Buddha Hall (he went right up until just two nights before). So I just naively told myself he would go on.

Amrito, his doctor, and I had been taking care of him. Someone always had to be in the room with him in those last few months, because his body was so frail. I was on the night ‘shift’ with Osho that last week, and Amrito was with him most of the day. So I was with Osho in his room the whole night before, and I handed over care to Amrito sometime after 8 o’clock on the morning of 19 January 1990.

I was supposed to go back to Osho’s room around 5:30 pm for my next shift, and to see if he was able to go to Buddha Hall for the evening meditation. I had an early dinner; it must have been around 4:30 pm. I ate it up on the roof of Osho’s house, right on top of his room. I’d never done that before. I remember being mesmerized by the swaying of the tall trees outside his room. Sometime after 5 pm, Jayesh, the Inner Circle chairman, came to find me to tell me that Osho had left his body and that I should go to his room.

Immediately after I entered Osho’s room, I burst into tears. Jayesh said now was not the time for that. And I was grateful for that metaphorical slap in the face—it brought me right into the here and now. Jayesh said the body would be taken to Buddha Hall for a celebration at 7 pm, and then to the burning ghats for cremation, as Osho had requested. Then he left with Amrito, who had been in the room when I arrived.

When Amrito returned shortly after, I questioned whether Osho had really left his body, as his presence was so strong—it was almost overwhelming. And he looked so peaceful, as if just resting. I said I wasn’t going to let the body be moved until it became cold—to be honest, I didn’t want to believe he had left. But soon the body started to become stiff and cold and I had to accept the inevitable. However, there was no time to think or get emotional. I went into super practical mode… Osho was in his nightgown, and I thought he should be dressed in his favorite robe and cap. I asked Amrito to help me as the body was very heavy. For me it was an amazing labor of love and meditation. It was as if Osho was right there.

Amrito left again to give an announcement in Buddha Hall. Then Osho’s mother arrived, and Neelam, Osho’s secretary for India, and I let them in. And then I called Shunyo, his other caretaker, to come in. And I sent a message for Anandadas, a photographer, to come. Then a stretcher was brought and we carried the body in to Buddha Hall, which was packed to overflowing.

Osho’s instructions to Amrito and Jayesh had been to take his body to Buddha Hall and then to the burning ghats, and that we should all go and celebrate.

And that’s what he did.*

* I have since heard that there has been some muck-raking about Osho’s death, implying that Jayesh and Amrito were somehow involved. Although I do not agree with Jayesh and Amrito on many things, I am absolutely sure that they would never, ever, have done anything to harm Osho. They were both devoted to Osho. And Osho trusted them both.

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Anando was Osho’s last personal secretary. She is now a group facilitator and writer.

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